PETALING JAYA/SERDANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has responded to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho’s allegation that he was "putting words into the mouth" of the US government in relation to Malaysia’s seizure of the Equanimity superyacht.
Low, also known as Jho Low, claimed in a statement on Sunday (Aug 12) that Malaysia was “putting words into the mouth” of the US authorities by saying the US$250 million (S$343 million) yacht’s arrival in the country last week was after negotiations with the Americans.
Asked for his comment on Mr Low’s statement, Dr Mahathir, with his trademark sarcastic wit, replied: “I am very proud that I can put words in the mouth of the US government. I must be greater than Trump (US President Donald Trump)."
“You can ask the US authorities whether I put words into their mouths, whether I typed out the words and shoved it down their throat,” Dr Mahathir said.
Dr Mahathir was responding to questions by the media after visiting an art exhibition at the Perdana University in Serdang on Sunday.
The exhibition organised by the university is entitled “Tun M: A Forever Legacy,” and showcases more than 100 artworks inspired by Dr Mahathir’s legacy. Dr Mahathir, who is the founding chancellor of the university, attended the event accompanied by his wife Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali.
Earlier, a spokesman for fugitive businessman Jho Taek Low, said Dr Mahathir has once again showed that the proper legal process has no place in his regime.
On Saturday, Dr Mahathir said the Equanimity would be sold as soon as possible to the highest bidder to recover stolen money used to buy the superyacht.
Dr Mahathir said the US Department of Justice (DoJ) had assured Malaysia that the yacht belongs to Jho Low, bought using money stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Responding to the Prime Minister's remarks that the US had proven its case against Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd, the spokesman said that Jho Low had been declared guilty by Dr Mahathir's regime before a single piece of evidence has been produced in US courts.
According to Jho Low's spokesman, the US has not proven anything.
"The truth is this: the US filed unproven allegations in a civil forfeiture complaint more than a year ago - then halted the proceedings before any party had any meaningful chance to respond, said the spokesman in a statement released through Mr Low's attorneys.
"The allegations have ricocheted around the world for more than a year, repeated thousands of times."
“It is clear that the Malaysian government is lying and putting words into the US’ mouth. These repeated misstatements by Malaysia are embarrassing the US, which has stressed it has no involvement in the illegal seizure of the vessel and will update the US court on Aug 17."
The Equanimity is currently docked at the Boustead Cruise Centre in Pulau Indah, Port Klang.